Since most early-blooming plants are low and late ones tall, these strips may be identified by height and by principal season of bloom. The first or edging strip, will contain low compact plants, mostly spring and late-fall blooming. Select them for compact habit so that they will maintain definite lines for the garden pattern. Let the width of this strip be 12 to 15 inches. Use candytuft, Polemonium reptans, Scotch pinks, cushion asters, coralbells, hardy alyssum, and armeria. Avoid sprawling Phlox subulata, cerastium, and such annuals as petunias, verbenas, or trailing nasturtiums.
Back of the edging, use slightly taller and less compact spring and early summer flowers, together with a few perennials and annuals for late summer and early fall. This is the foreground strip. Here is the place for many plants mistakenly used for edging. These should be low but not necessarily compact. In this strip use pinks, campanulas, columbines, trollius, and lungwort. This is also the best place for the low early tulips or hyacinths, if you wish to use them for strong stiff accents. Let this strip be 18 to 24 inches wide.
Back of the foreground area is an ideal location for iris and the lower-growing daylilies or hemerocallis. This strip can be quite narrow, since the bearded iris does not always hold good foliage through the summer and the daylilies are only for accent, being too bulky if used in quantity. If the space is narrow, the iris can be easily masked by plants growing in front or behind. In gardens where only a few iris are desired, this strip may be omitted and the space divided equally between the foreground and the midsummer strip. The width of these strips is, of course, subject to your own preference and to the length and width of the border. The strips must always be in proportion to each other and to the garden as a whole.
Next comes the midsummer strip or middleground area. Unless something is specially provided to carry on succession, there is likely to be a dearth of bloom after the iris and most of the foreground plants have gone by. In this comparatively narrow strip of 18 to 24 inches, plant biennial Canterbury-bells and foxgloves with perennial lupine, Chinese delphinium, and Phlox Miss Lingard.
This is also a very good place for tulips. Their color, added to that of the spring perennials, creates a larger picture and gives a feeling of greater depth of bloom. As this strip is far enough back to be masked by the growing perennials, the ugly and so-slow-to-mature tulip foliage will not be so annoying there. (See list of plants.)
LATE SUMMER STRIP
Behind the narrow midsummer strip comes the late-summer area, the widest division in the border. It may be 3 to 5 feet, depending on the effect planned, the over-all size of the garden, or whether tall background plants are needed. Here must be accommodated a number of plants important for late summer and early fall bloom. Most of these are vigorous growers and need plenty of room. Phlox, the larger hemerocallis, delphinium, hardy garden lilies, veronicas, platycodon, and the taller hardy chrysanthemums, Salvia farinacea, thalictrum, verbascums, and annual zinnias and marigolds belong here.
- Width for Low Upkeep - A wide well-planted border is a superb garden expression, completely satisfying for the entire season. Such borders provide space for larger plant groups, a more complete succession, greater variety in plants, and they also cut down maintenance.
- Edging Strip - Let the width of this strip be 12 to 15 inches. Use candytuft, Polemonium reptans, Scotch pinks, cushion asters, coralbells, hardy alyssum, and armeria.
- Background Strip - The rearmost strip, or if the bed is bordered on two sides by paths, the middle section, should properly contain the tallest plants, usually the late-blooming fall varieties.
- Sequence of Bloom - It requires self-controlled planning to achieve succession. So much depends on proper distribution of plant groups through the entire garden and avoidance of concentration in any one section for one time.
- Basic Plan for Succession - In working out the design of beds, be certain that there is enough room to accommodate groups of plants for each flowering season. In no other way can you have adequate succession.
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